NAU Roundup: Women’s Basketball Adds Two Coaches to Staff | Local
NAU SPORTS INFORMATION
Filling two openings in her coaching staff, Northern Arizona women’s basketball coach Loree Payne announced the additions of TJ Harris and Ryan Freeman as Lumberjacks assistant coaches for the 2022-23 season. .
A former head coach of the Northland Prep Academy Spartans men’s and women’s basketball teams, Harris returns to Flagstaff after spending a year with the Portland State women’s basketball team.
“We are thrilled to bring TJ back to Flagstaff. He is respected in the local community and has a proven track record in his college coaching career,” Payne said. “He knows the Big Sky Conference well and will bring renewed energy to the program with his passion for defense and player development. He will also play a pivotal role in recruiting elite talent for our NAU women’s basketball program. .”
Before moving north to Portland ahead of the 2021-22 season, Harris spent a year as an assistant coach at Chandler-Gilbert Community College while teaching at Combs High School in San Tan Valley.
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A graduate of the University of Great Falls, now known as the University of Providence, Harris played for the Vikings from 2011 to 2015. Earning first-team all-conference honors as a senior, Harris garnered averaged 14.8 points, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals while hitting nearly 43 percent from the 3-point arc. While in Providence, Harris played alongside his brother Michael after completing his high school career at Huntley Project High School in Montana as a three-sport athlete. Named First Team All-Conference and All-State, Harris landed on the Montana All-Star team.
Harris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education in 2016 from Providence and later added a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona in 2020.
Freeman will join Northern Arizona after four seasons on the New Mexico Lobos staff. In 2021-22, Freeman served as the special assistant to the head coach of the New Mexico women’s basketball program after two years as the team’s video coordinator and one as a graduate assistant.
“Ryan is going to be a great addition to our women’s basketball program,” Payne said. “He has been mentored by some of the best coaches in women’s football and has an incredible basketball spirit. His post-player development experience will help elevate our program to a new level.”
In his role last season, Freeman was responsible for planning, travel, team operations and Lobos camps. Prior to assuming his role as video coordinator in 2019, Freeman’s duties as a graduate assistant during the 2018-19 season included assisting with scouting and team practices, cutting and editing games and workout videos, and creating content for recruiting and social media purposes.
Before coming to Albuquerque, Freeman earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida where he held several positions in the women’s basketball program. Starting out as a student video assistant, Freeman worked as a student manager for the Gators’ 2017-18 season.
In addition to her experience with two college women’s basketball programs, Freeman also worked as a referee for the Mid Florida Officials Association and as a support staff member for USA Basketball in 2014.
A 2018 Florida graduate, Freeman left Gainesville with a bachelor’s degree in sports management.